DURHAM, N.C. – Two home runs and strong pitching performances from seniors Mitch Stallings and Jack Labosky helped Duke defeat Miami, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to claim its first series victory over the Hurricanes since 2013.
Stallings (2-1) pitched eight complete, allowing one run on five hits while striking out eight. Labosky recorded his second save in as many days with a shutout ninth. For the game Stallings and Labosky scattered six singles and did not allow a Miami (8-10, 2-3 ACC) baserunner to reach scoring position after the third.
In addition to his performance on the mound, Labosky also lifted a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, his third longball of the season.
“Jack is so good in all three phases right now,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “He’s really swinging the bat well. He had three great at bats today then comes in and closes it out. If there was a more complete player in college baseball today, I’d like to see them.”
After a 1-2-3 top of the first, Duke (16-3, 4-1 ACC) struck for three runs in the bottom half. Jimmy Herron got the offense going with a leadoff base hit. Zack Kone then ripped a base knock of his own that the Miami outfield misplayed, allowing Herron to score and Kone to reach third. Labosky then blasted an 0-1 slider over the Blue Monster to cap the Blue Devils’ three-run first.
“First off, we had a very good two-strike at bat from Jimmy Herron to set a tone. Zack [Kone] comes up and he’s aggressive to the fastball. Puts a good swing on. I think [Miami starter Evan] McKendry was still fishing for that slider a little bit. He found it as the game went on. Jack [Labosky] was able to get on time with it and put a great swing on it. All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, we had three runs on the board.”
Back-to-back one-out walks in the third allowed Miami to plate its only run of the game. With runners at first and second and two outs, Michael Burns sent an RBI single into center field before Stallings got Hunter Tackett to ground out to end the threat.
Stallings was outstanding the rest of his outing to keep the 3-1 lead intact.
“[Stallings] got better as the game went on,” Pollard said. “That was what was so impressive to me. Had the third inning there where he lost command a little bit. Put a couple guys on; they came up with the two-out hit. All of a sudden it’s 3-1. Comes out the next inning, falls behind a couple guys, but makes some pitches. Then from that point on, his competitive fire took over. His best three innings of the year were those last three innings he pitched today.”
Miami starter Evan McKendry (3-2) settled in after the first to keep Duke from extending the lead. McKendry allowed the three runs in the loss, permitting seven hits. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Junior Griffin Conine launched a solo shot, his fourth homer of the year, against Miami reliever Jeremy Cook in the eighth to give Duke an insurance run heading to the final inning. Labosky took care of the rest, picking up two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth.
Duke and Miami conclude the series at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, March 18 from the DBAP. Senior Ryan Day is on the mound for Duke against Hurricane junior Andrew Cabezas on ACC Network Extra.